From Brain Blogger:
In psychology, empathy refers to the ability to understand another person’s mental and emotional experience. While a great deal of psychology research created a conceptual understanding of empathy, it was in the early 1990s that researchers first gained insight into the biological mechanisms that may underpin empathy. Researchers at the University of Parma, Italy, discovered that when macaque monkeys observe another individual’s (monkey or human) actions, the neurons that normally fire when the monkey him/herself performs the same action also fires in response to watching another person. The finding of these neurons, known as ‘mirror neurons,’ suggests that these monkeys use the same neural mechanism to represent their own and others’ actions, creating a neurophysiological link between one’s own experience and that of another individual. Humans also seem to have mirror neurons in brain areas analogous to those observed in the macaques. Several studies confirm that when humans observe another person’s intentional action and/or emotional expressions, they activate brain areas that are also engaged when the person would perform the action or experience the emotion him/herself.
Read the full article here.